Hannah Sterling

Hannah Sterling was Queen of Sweets last year in Ahwatukee Nutcracker and is the Spanish Queen this year, her last in the show since she’s graduating from Desert Vista High in May.

With Christmas less than a month away, Ahwatukee is alive with the sights and sounds of the season.

From several major holiday gift collections for needy people to holiday services and other activities, December offers plenty of opportunities for Ahwatukee residents to get in the holiday spirit.

Among opportunities to share holiday joy with people who can’t afford it on their own is the Ahwatukee Kiwanis Club’s annual Foster Youth Collection Drive.

Teen boys and girls living in foster group homes do not benefit from the many toy drives during the holiday season, said Andi Pettyjohn, one of the drive’s organizers. “They do not know the joy of waking up on Christmas morning to a loving family and some special gifts. The Kiwanis Club of Ahwatukee helps to provide them with much needed clothing items and essentials which are important to foster youth trying to fit in with other kids in school.”

Pettyjohn underscored the impact of these gifts on the recipients:

“I recently had a conversation with a 16-year-old foster girl who is now living with a foster family, but had lived in group homes for five years. All the time she lived in the group homes she never owned a jacket or a hair brush. We want to change that!”

For boys, the club needs light jackets, T-shirts, sports pants or shorts, socks, and boxers all in men’s sizes.  For the girls, the club could use light jackets, short and long sleeve tops, leggings, pajamas, and underwear all in women and junior sizes.

For all, the club collects toiletry items, hair combs and brushes, hair ties, $25 gift certificates to Wal-Mart or Target and $25 gift certificates to AMC or Harkins.

Monetary donations can be made at ahwatukeekiwanis.org or by mailing a check to Ahwatukee Kiwanis, PO Box 50596, Phoenix, AZ 85076.

There also is an opportunity to sponsor a foster child or two. Information: info@ahwatukeekiwanis.org or call/text Pettyjohn at 602-402-6267.  

Drop off locations for donations include: Desert Sage Wellness Center, 16815 S. Desert Foothills Parkway; Ahwatukee YMCA, 1030 E. Liberty Lane; Ace Hardware, 1335 E. Chandler Blvd.; Dr. Euzarraga DDS, 4206 E. Chandler Blvd.; Ahwatukee Swim & Tennis Center, 4700 E. Warner Road; Pecos Storage, 3087 E. Pecos Road; Mountain Park Senior Center, 4475 E. Knox Road; Mountain View Lutheran Church, 11002 S. 48th St.; Horizon Honors High School, 16233 S. 48th St.; Vision Community Management, 16625 S. Desert Foothills Parkway; and H & R Block, 4747 E. Elliot Road.

Other drives in gear

The Kyrene Foundation’s drive for its Winter Wonderland for needy kids and their families also is underway – and the time is short to donate because of this year’s school calendar, organizer Nancy Dudenhofer said.

Last year 257 families and 933 children in the Kyrene School District benefitted from the Winter Wonderland, which the foundation can only undertake with the help of people in the district.

Unwrapped donations are needed by Dec. 6 and can be made Monday through Friday either at Kyrene district headquarters on the northwest corner of Kyrene and Warner roads in Tempe (7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.) or at Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living, 15905 S. 46th St., Ahwatukee (8 a.m.-5 p.m.). (See related story on p. 18.)

Matt and Kami Troutman are hoping the the Christmas spirit will motivate people to join their blood drive in honor of their 3-year-old daughter, Adelyn, who suffers a rare genetic disease that forces her to undergo a blood transfusion once a month.

At their first blood drive in Ahwatukee in November 2017, the blood drive garnered 55 units. Last April, the second drive yielded more than twice that amount. It has become the biggest blood drive in Ahwatukee and one of the largest in Phoenix.

It’s time to register for the second drive for the year 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 at Desert Foothills United Methodist Church, 2156 E. Liberty Lane, Ahwatukee, so the Troutmans can set a new record again. Appointments can be made at bloodhero.com (code “Adelyn”), or by calling 480-246-6332 or emailing troutman.kami@gmail.com.

Meanwhile, the Ahwatukee Women’s Golf Association is again conducting their annual collection of blankets and bears for patients at Cardon Children’s Hospital at Banner Desert Hospital. This drive started in 1999 and has generated Blankets and Bears that number in the thousands for donation

New knitted, crocheted and fleece blankets of all kinds are needed. Crib size or smaller is preferred, but there is a need for any size. New stuffed animals are also needed. Dolls or stuffed animals should be soft and cuddly, and it is preferred that it is something that a child can hold and carry.  

Donations are being accepted at the Ahwatukee Country Club, west side of 48th Street just north of Warner Road.

Questions or to arrange another location for a delivery: text Joyce Blobner at 480-381-4195.

Dignity Health has teamed up with the U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots community toy drive. Unwrapped toys for children ages 0-12 can be brought through Dec. 9 to 4328 East Chandler Blvd.

Plays, musicals and concerts abound

A slew of holiday entertainment in Ahwatukee kicks off Friday, Nov. 30, at Esperanza Lutheran Church, 2601 E. Thunderhill Place, when young people from the community present “Noelophobia,” another musical by Ahwatukee composer David Coste.

Like all his productions, this features music, comedy and a message about the holiday season. Tickets are $5 and the show will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, as well as at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, at the church. (See related story on p. 20).

Also on Saturday, two free shows featuring Christian musician Mike Westendorf will be held at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 at Lamb of God Church, 599 E. Chandler Blvd., complete with cookies and hot chocolate.

The show is a departure of sorts for the church, which for years offered a live Nativity. With the departure of longtime pastor Rev. Scott Martz for a new assignment in Texas, the congregation this year is holding the concert instead. No tickets are required. Parking is on-site. Information: MyLambofGod.org, mikewestendorf.com, amy@DesertDrugDog.com.

On Sunday, Dec. 2, Ironwood Library, 4333 E. Chandler Blvd., will present “The Nutcracker” and family-friendly holiday activities beginning at 2 p.m.

Dec. 8 is shaping up to be an all-day celebration of Christmas with three free events.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2955 E. Frye Road, continues the holiday entertainment at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 8, with its fifth annual concert and live Nativity.

The free show includes music by the choirs of Desert Vista High School, Akimel A-al and Altadena middle schools and Cerritos Elementary. The choirs will rotate throughout the evening. There will be a live nativity outside with live animals, creche exhibit featuring nativities from around the world, a puppet show and free hot chocolate and cookies for all.

Also on Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Ahwatukee Midfirst Bank, 4750 E. Chandler Blvd., has a Saturday with Santa planned.

Free photos with Santa, activities with goodies and other family fun will be offered at the event, which also is open to pets. Information: 480-755-0937.

And also on Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Ahwatukee Foothills Montessori, 3221 E. Chandler Blvd., will hold its third annual Winter Festival featuring a snow slide and snow play area, face painting, balloon artist, cookie decorating, tricycle races, a raffle, crafts Santa and even a toddler zone for kids under 2. Santa also will make an appearance at 11:30 a.m. for photos with kids. A Queso Good food truck will be on the site.

Christmas in Ahwatukee isn’t complete without dance teacher Kimberly Lewis’ elaborate production of “The Nutcracker,” at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 15 and 2 p.m. Dec. 16 at Desert Vista High School’s Fine Arts Theatre.

Scores of dancers, actresses and actors ages 3 to 18 have been rehearsing for several months and will present an extravaganza made all the more spectacular from handmade costumes for the cast. Tickets can be purchased at afnutcracker.com and are going fast.

Another holiday tradition in Ahwatukee is the German language Christmas service at 4:20 p.m. Dec. 16 at Mountain View Lutheran Church, 11002 S. 48th St. Christmas carols and the entire service is in German, and this year Pastor Wolf W. Kaufmann will give the sermon.

Kaufman has degrees in English and evangelical theology from German universities, and was a pastor in Upland, Germany, as well as in New York, where he led a small German-speaking congregation. After receiving his law degree, he became an immigration lawyer with offices in Palm Desert and Scottsdale. He is a member of the Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod, and previously also served as Arizona’s Honorary Consul for the German Consulate in Los Angeles.

Also on tap again this year is the “Ahwatukee Christmas House,” at 2313 E. Taxidea Way, which will be open to the public 6-9 p.m.  Dec. 20.

For the admission – a nonperishable food item – visitors will find over 100 animated figures, ornaments and nativities from around the world, an 8-foot wall of angels, a 12-foot Christmas tree, over 70 nutcrackers, train sets, a 75-house village, over 30,000 lights in and around the house, and Santa Claus himself.

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